It was a rare privilege for students of the Department of English Language, Lagos State University (LASU), when they had the opportunity of meeting Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezigbo during her book reading at the Theatre Arts Auditorium, LASU, recently. Before now, they had met her through her books, but they could not hide their excitement as she read two of her books, to their listening pleasure.
Head of English Department, Dr. Rachel Bello, told the audience that when the Dean of Faculty of Arts told her that Prof Akachi would be here, she felt delighted, for, “It is really not just reading her books but meeting her in person. Prof Akachi is a woman of influence; she is not only a writer, but also a performer.”
Dean of Faculty of Arts, Prof. Harrison Adeniyi, enthused, “It is a rare opportunity for the students to have Prof. Akachi right before you.” He recalled that she was in the university in 1989 on sabbatical and, today, it was like home coming for her.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof A.O.K. Noah, added, “Our agenda is about somebody reading to the audience. We are gradually returning to the good old days of reading. We have lost this practice and so many people will gain from it today. Parents no longer read books to their children; grandmothers or fathers no longer read books to their grandchildren, and I encourage parents to read books to their children as it will help improve the reading culture.”
The DVC asked Prof. Akachi to name her best book, of which she mentioned Roses and Bullets. Prof. Akachi conceded that her coming to LASU for the reading was like home coming. “Many of you were not born at that time (1989) when I was on sabbatical to the university. I remember LASU with fondness, and a lot of things have changed in LASU today, with a lot of trees planted here now.”
She used the occasion to commend her husband for his support all through the years.
She also made a case for reading culture, “We need to develop the habit of reading at all places. If you are not a reader, you will not do well. Reading widely is one of the best activities that you can engage in. Reading makes you have mastery of any language. I also advocate competence in our mother tongue, and there is need to speak our mother tongue and English language. With both, you can thrive.”
She told the students that she had written over 50 books and she would be unveiling two of her latest books on the occasion. She subsequently read Roses and Bullets, explaining that the novel was based on Nigerian civil war, praying that “such a thing does not happen again in our country. We stay together in peace and live happily. We rely on our leaders and ask them to remember that many people are looking on them for good governance.”
Prof Ezeigbo thrilled the audience with readings from Chapter 24 and 27 of the war narrative, noting that the plot was about a women who, during the war, had an only son who joined the Nigerian army, but she was anxious that she wanted her son’s wife to have a child, but, in a war period, it was not the best time to get pregnant, because the soldiers’ thinking was not the same thinking, like his mother’s.
She also read from Magic Breast Bag, a collection of short stories. She explained, “The book teaches entrepreneurial skills. There are no jobs out there, so many students would graduate and may not get a job, but, with their entrepreneurial skills, they can take care of themselves. The story happened before the Second World War.”
She ended the reading with a praise song in Igbo language, dedicated to the woman who had learnt some skills. The master of ceremony commended Prof Akachi for her dancing steps, and observed that she was an ace performer.
During the interactive session, Prof Akachi told the students that, for them to become a writer, they had to be very observant, and they should read what other writers had written. “Open your eyes to what is happening in the society. What you read will trigger ideas on what you have in mind. Writing requires that you have to be passionate about it and at every opportunity, you have to keep writing,” she said.